A Student Government initiative to improve sustainability on campus that began in the spring is ready for a reboot heading into the fall semester.
On June 24, The Office of Student Affairs approved the launch of the Green Initiative website, which accepted proposals for green projects that could be undertaken on campus. The deadline for proposal submissions was June 30.
The current plan is financed exclusively from the SG Executive Committee budget and the Green Initiative committee members will meet to discuss funding specific projects from the pool of proposals that were received on the Green Initiative website.
A $5,000 allocation will subsidize accepted proposals. Projects may be funded in full, partially or not at all at the discretion of the committee. Preference will be given to projects that have significant student involvement and leadership roles.
SG Senator Brett Cease spearheaded the movement towards greater sustainability last semester through the construction of the Green Initiative based on a per-student funding stream, but the proposal was not presented to the UT System Board of Regents.
“We were encouraged that the timing wasn’t right with university officials, and were encouraged to find a middle ground for this year with assurances that we would work together towards implementing our original vision,” Cease said.
The originally proposed plan was to apply a $5 fee increase to all incoming students in the fall, not to students that were currently enrolled, which would then fund the initiative. According to Census Day figures, new student enrollment last fall, which includes first-time freshmen and transfers, was 7,346.
The university is expected to continue to grow, and with the original proposal, the Green Fund would pool several thousand dollars to further fund a wide variety of initiatives.
There are many sustainability efforts currently in place on campus. The Student Services Building has been certified by the United States Green Building Council as a LEED Platinum Building for its environmentally conservative design and construction features.
The Sustainability Club, working in partnership with the Office of Student Volunteerism and Facilities Management, focuses on recycling, composting and greater energy alternatives. The Sustainability Club’s President, Sherry Yang is excited about the potential improvements on campus.
“I think it would be really great to have a composting station in Dining Hall West…something that can be self-managed that we don’t need volunteers overseeing,” Yang said. “I think it would be cool if we could have solar-powered charging stations for cell phones. It would definitely show that we are trying to be more sustainable.”
SG Vice President Joey Campain advocates for a wide range of community involvement, but said he wants the student body and organizations such as the Sustainability Club to be the prime arbiter over what receives funding.
“It’s very important that (SG reaches) out to these organizations that are really passionate and give them the resources they need to make a bigger change,” he said.
Not only would the Green Fund elevate initiatives currently in place on campus, it would provide students with unique opportunities to work with university administrators on budget allocations and policy implementation, thus increasing marketability post-graduation.
“If we are really focused on this, its another way students can get engaged,” Cease said.